In the run up to the presidential election taking place in the United States this November, The Millennial Source is publishing a series of interviews showcasing different opinions about President Trump and former Vice President Biden to give readers insight into the views of candidates’ supporters and detractors.
Our first interview was with a Trump supporter involved in local government who also served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2016 and 2020, Andrew Shecktor. In our second interview, we spoke with an economist working in the US public sector who is a harsh critic of Biden’s from the left.
Our next interview is with Brock Monroe, a fundraiser for an education-based nonprofit from Buffalo, New York who plans on voting for Joe Biden this November after supporting more progressive candidates in the Democratic primaries.
Each interview will be published with only minor edits made for clarification purposes and readability. If for any reason the content conflicts with the accepted facts of a given situation from nonpartisan sources or if some additional information could provide clarity, the reader will be informed in the “Editor’s note” (in italics) following the interviewee’s answer.
TMS: Why do you support Joe Biden? Is your support mostly based on his proposed policies or something different?
Vice President Joe Biden, both on a policy front and as a leader, would be a drastic improvement for our local communities, our nation, and our world. Vice President Biden wasn’t the candidate that I supported in the Democratic Primary, having personally donated to both Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders, but the reason that I am supporting the former vice president now is the positive change that he represents for all of us. Now I know a 77-year-old white man is not normally who we envision as a “change candidate,” but what he is proposing is certainly the kind of change that we need as a nation. Joe Biden wants to eliminate cash bail, raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, create a public option that would expand the ACA (Affordable Care Act), and provide much needed debt relief for young adults like me with student loans. All of this is before we see the suggested policy proposals recommended by the Biden/Sanders Unity Task Forces, which early reports suggest will be the most progressive in the recent history of a major party presidential candidate.
Now I am the first to say that Vice President Biden hasn’t been a perfect public official over his nearly half a century in the public eye, but he has shown a great willingness to evolve and move with the country. We all saw this willingness to evolve firsthand as it related to gay marriage, where he spoke out in support even ahead of President Obama, and we are continuing to see his personal evolution in this moment in the wake of Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter protest movement. This willingness to evolve and listen is why Vice President Biden is the right leader for this moment. We have had four years of a president whose leadership style is best described by one of his own quotes where he said “I alone can fix it.” We need a leader who is humble enough to understand that no one person can fix our nation. A leader who will foster collaboration, not infighting. A leader who will value the input, knowledge, and intelligence of our talented public servants, not ignore it and excuse it away. A leader who is willing to admit their mistakes and fix them, not lie to hide them away.
Editor’s note: Some, like former President Obama, have called Biden’s platform one of the most progressive in history. PolitiFact said this was “half true,” noting that Biden’s platform could be characterized as one of the most progressive in history, but that past Democrats, like George McGovern in the 1972 presidential race, were more progressive in the context of their era.
Editor’s note: On July 9, the Biden campaign released its “Unity Task Force” policy recommendations that were crafted with Sanders and his allies, suggesting Biden is taking steps to unite the moderate and progressive wings of the party. Recommendations include proposals on health care, climate change, immigration, and education, among others. While some progressives see the proposals as a positive sign, others say they don’t go far enough.
TMS: One of the main critiques of Biden as a candidate is that he fails to inspire excitement among a large swath of voters. A recent CNN poll found that a clear majority of Biden supporters surveyed (60%) said they are more interested in casting a vote against Trump than a vote supporting Biden. For Trump supporters, however, the numbers are reversed. The poll claims that 70% of Trump voters said they were casting their vote for Trump, as opposed to against Biden. While this doesn’t necessarily mean Biden is in trouble – polls also show him with a clear lead in many head to head matchups at this juncture – there is an argument that says Biden should be concerned with the lack of enthusiasm among his supporters.
What do you make of this? Should Biden be worried about allowing the election to be framed as one where he is the “safe” candidate running against what his opponent stands for rather than what he himself brings to the table?
Whenever we have a political incumbent facing reelection we must ask ourselves two questions. First, is the political incumbent worthy of being reelected? Second, if the first question is answered with a no, who can replace them and meet the expectations of the role. Now the first question, for the majority of Americans, has already been answered with an overwhelming no. This is why the president’s approval rating now sits at a dismal 38%. That just leaves us with the second question and thankfully the former vice president’s campaign has plenty of time to address that. Most political insiders say that the presidential race, for a non-incumbent, has five key moments and believe it or not we have yet to reach any of them.
Over the next few months the vice president will announce his running mate, hold his convention (scaled down due to Covid-19), and hopefully debate the president three times. These are the moments where the vice president will show America who he is and hopefully convince America that he is who should lead our country moving forward. So to answer your question I am not worried about the enthusiasm gap at the moment, but I hope to see that gap close as we move deeper into the election. At the end of the day, even though we essentially only have two options, people vote for a candidate and I hope that candidate is Vice President Biden.
Editor’s note: Although Trump’s polling numbers are low, others, like former President Obama, were able to come back from low polling to win reelection. In late 2011, about a year before the 2012 election which he ended up winning, Obama also held a 38% approval rating. By July 2012, he had recovered to around 45% approval. In October 2016, Donald Trump was behind in national polling by just under 7% at one point, and observers noted that no presidential candidate had ever overcome such a deficit that late in the campaign. Similarly, at points in June and August 2016, Trump was polling under 40% in a head-to-head matchup with Clinton.
TMS: Biden is a political veteran but has also received criticism for his age and sometimes his mental sharpness. Trump, at 70 years old, was the oldest president ever to assume office in 2017. If Biden won, he would – by a good margin – be the oldest president ever, at 78 years old on inauguration day. Do you have any concerns with Biden’s age or mental capacity?
Either way, do you think it is safe to assume he would be a one-term president?
America is on the verge of a passing of the torch, not just politically but generationally as well. We’ve all seen articles with titles like “Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation,” but that impact has yet to be reflected in our elected officials, on both sides of the aisle. The 115th Congress, which is currently serving, is among the oldest in history with an average age of 57.8 years old when sworn in and as you stated both of our major party presidential candidates are in their 70s. This is changing and will change, but that change shouldn’t be a driving force in who we vote for. I would love to see more people closer to my age in public office, but that is not how I or my fellow millennials have ever cast our votes. We vote for policies, not the date of birth found on someone’s birth certificate. This is one of the reasons that the presidential candidate with the most support by young people in the democratic primary was an even older individual, Senator Bernie Sanders, at the age of 78 years old.
Now I know that the president has attacked the former vice president on his mental sharpness, as ironic as that might appear to some of us, but at the end of the day we need to trust the former vice president’s doctor and understand that speech gaffes are not a direct indicator of mental capacity. Also, in the specific case of Vice President Joe Biden, we know that some of his gaffes are directly tied to his lifelong battle with a stutter, which has resurfaced as he has aged. Thus this is not a concern to me and my further speculation on it doesn’t do anyone any good, as I am neither a mental health expert or personally acquainted with the former vice president.
I do believe that the vice president will only serve one-term if elected, which has been rumored since he entered the race, and I support that decision. As I said at the start of this question, a passing of the torch is coming but that decision to step away should be handled by the individual and on a case-by-case basis.
Editor’s note: While younger people have tended to vote for Democrats in recent years, including in the 2016 election and the 2018 midterms, polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has suggested that young people prefer candidates who are younger, not lifelong politicians. However, there is also evidence that issues matter more than age for millennials, including their tendency to support Bernie Sanders. Interestingly, in the 1980 election between Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan, votes among the 18-29 demographic cohort were nearly even, with each candidate receiving about 44-45 percent of their vote. At the time, Reagan was the oldest candidate in American history to assume the presidency at 69 years old.
TMS: Given the reality outlined in the previous question, how important to you is Joe Biden’s pick for vice president? Do you have a preference for who he selects? Likewise, who would you not like him to select and could his selecting this person cause him to lose your vote? What do you make of his promise to choose a woman as his running mate and what about the talk in some circles that it needs to be a Black woman?
I think the vice presidential pick is extremely important, but not for electoral reasons. The data shows us that historically the vice presidential pick has little impact on the election, other than garner the ticket earned media. What is important is making sure that the vice presidential pick is ready to serve on day one and will be a good governing partner for Joe Biden. His reported candidate pool meets both of these criteria, although I personally prefer Senator Tammy Duckworth or Senator Elizabeth Warren. None of the reported candidates would cause Biden to lose my vote though.
I am thrilled that the former vice president has indicated that he will select a woman, but at the end of the day the race and gender identity of his running mate will not determine my level of support for Vice President Biden. Gender and racial diversity needs to greatly improve in our elected officials, but just because a ticket is diverse doesn’t mean that it will adequately serve or represent the needs of the vice president’s gender and/or race. Diversity doesn’t naturally equal equality.
TMS: In the primaries, voters who aligned with progressive wing of the party supported a host of candidates perceived to be to the left of Biden, such as Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. While Sanders has seemingly made sincere attempts to rally the party around Biden as the best chance for the Democrats to defeat Trump in November, a segment of his more hard-line supporters remain reluctant to vote for him.
Other influential leaders of the progressive movement, like House Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, said they would vote for Biden, but haven’t formally endorsed him on the campaign trail.
Do you think it is important that progressive leaders unambiguously rally behind Biden as the election approaches? What would you say to any progressive voters out there who say they won’t vote for Biden?
As I stated earlier I originally supported both Senator Warren and Senator Sanders in the primary. I did this because I believe that progressive candidates better represent the needs of myself, the needs of the average American, and the needs of future generations. After the primary concluded though, with the vice president running away with the nomination once the field consolidated, I immediately knew that the former vice president would be our best hope for a better tomorrow. I have loved seeing both Senator Warren and Senator Sanders support the former vice president and it makes me feel all the better about my support for each of them in the primary. I do not feel like any individual owes the former vice president their support though. It is their individual right to withhold their endorsements until they feel like he supports the policies proposals that they believe are needed for our country.
Now, no American owes Joe Biden their vote either. We live in a representative democracy and it is the vice president’s job as the Democratic nominee to earn the votes of a majority of Americans, but I would encourage all Americans to consider the impact of four more years of President Trump’s policies, his mismanagement of the executive branch, and his judicial appointments (which are in the hundreds). These aren’t things that can be simply undone and we will be living with the results of his presidency for decades. So please keep an open mind about voting for the former vice president and read the outcomes of the unity task force when they are released next month. At the end of the day it is the president’s policies and management, not his likability, that will impact our daily lives.
TMS: Critics to the left of Biden seem particularly concerned with certain aspects of his record and personal history, including his initial stance in support of the Iraq War, his former views on criminal justice and his compromises with segregationists decades ago in the Senate. Do any of these issues concern you? Why or why not?
As I stated earlier, the vice president’s past doesn’t align with my political views and if those past stances were still his current stances he wouldn’t have my support, but we must normalize changing your opinion when presented with new information. I know that my viewpoints have changed drastically in the last 15 years and it would be hypocritical for me to not allow that same type of evolution in our elected officials. My vote for Joe Biden is because of the policies he currently supports, the leadership I believe he would provide, and my belief that even when he has made mistakes his heart was in the right place.
TMS: What is your primary news source?
TMS: What do you make of Biden’s remarks on a radio program where he said “you ain’t black” if you are having a problem choosing whether to support him or Trump. Is this just an innocent gaffe or do you think it is an insight into a larger issue?
As for gaffes, Biden has been known for years as a politician who regularly puts his foot in his mouth. Does this worry you in any way in the run up to the election or if he assumes the presidency?
Joe Biden won the Democratic nomination primarily due to the support of Black voters and he has continued to overwhelmingly lead among Black voters in recent polls. His gaffe was clearly a mistake and one that he has apologized for, while also reassuring all of us that he isn’t taking the Black vote for granted. I also believe that the great majority of Black voters at the end of the day will vote for the candidate with policies that address systemic racism and the general well-being of all Americans, which is Joe Biden.
Biden’s gaffes are definitely annoying but at the end of the day that’s what they are, an annoyance. He has historically made gaffes and he will again, but what matters is how he responds to those. We have seen the current president make countless speaking mistakes but rarely, if ever, has he apologized for them. I believe that America wants a president who owns up to their mistakes and goes about fixing them, instead of hiding or lying about them.
TMS: What are your thoughts on the Tara Reade sexual assault claims, and do you feel the media has covered the claims fairly?
I would first like to say that I am a straight man who hasn’t always been the best ally of women, so I will try to answer this as humbly and directly as possible.
When examining an accusation of sexual assault, I think it’s very important for the legal system to be given the time and resources to investigate the claim. Obviously we know that the legal system isn’t perfect, but every victim deserves to have their case heard and the accused deserve their case in court. If the legal system doesn’t conduct an investigation, either because of the statute of limitations or because charges aren’t filed, as in this case, then things get a little more complicated. At this point, when a public figure is concerned, normally we look for one of two things. First, is there hard evidence? Sometimes the media can still uncover this, even though it’s obviously rarer than with a criminal or civil investigation. Second, is there a pattern of behavior involving the accused individual, as we’ve seen with many celebrities, our current president, and even our most recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice? Since Joe Biden doesn’t have any history of sexual assault, only inappropriate touching, which is still bad and something he needs to learn from, it is quite different from the claim made by Ms. Reade.
It was now up to the media to investigate this claim, which I believe they generally did an overall good job with. I would highly recommend everyone to read this piece by Vox as it is one of the articles that really impacted my thoughts on the subject. Some media members did get into speculation about her motives which I don’t condone, but overall I believe the media did a good job investigating this claim and found enough issues with the individuals supporting Ms. Reade’s claim that I personally won’t factor it into my vote. Obviously this is a difficult issue, but at the end of the day I believe that we don’t have enough evidence to hold these accusations against the vice president, especially considering that we haven’t seen a pattern of this behavior from him previously or reported by those who have worked with him previously.
TMS: Some prominent national Democrats have seemingly expressed a desire for Biden to “stay in the basement” (i.e. stay out of the spotlight) so that any possible gaffes on his part don’t turn the attention away from Trump’s controversial handling of the coronavirus and his response to the recent protests over police brutality. Is this your view? Why or why not?
I completely disagree with this viewpoint. As I stated earlier, at the end of the day we vote for a president and Joe Biden needs to earn those votes. President Trump has answered that first question for most Americans but now we need the former vice president to go out there, as long as he is following the recommended safety precautions [regarding COVID-19], and win over the votes he needs to win in November. I believe that he is already starting to answer this question with his recent statements, interviews, and press conference and I’m excited to see how he continues to engage with voters moving forward.
TMS: At the end of the day, who do you believe will win in November, and why?
I believe that Joe Biden will win the election in November because Americans are tired of the Trump presidency. They are tired of being sick and dying, tired of seeing the rich get richer while the rest of us get poorer, tired of being lied to, tired of seeing Black people die in the streets, tired of seeing human rights abuses at the border, and tired of seeing our service members come home in body bags.
Editor’s note: According to the Congressional Research Service, a government think tank, US military deaths are down significantly from their numbers between 2006 to 2012. There have been over 17,500 deaths of American service personnel since 2006, but deaths per year have lessened in recent years, especially after 2013.
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